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Doug Ford gets emotional, says he’s standing by mayor

CityNews | posted Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Coun. Doug Ford choked back tears on Thursday, saying he’s standing by his brother Mayor Rob Ford who’s on a leave of absence to get help for substance abuse.

“This is not an easy thing for anyone to do especially when you’re the mayor of the city,” Coun. Ford said at a mid-morning news conference. “I encouraged my brother to take this time for himself and for the sake of his family.”

Coun. Ford said the mayor was very emotional when he told him his intentions following reports of new video and audio recordings allegedly showing him smoking crack and making vulgar comments. The prime minister even waded in saying the behaviour and comments were “troubling” but that he was “pleased” Ford was going to rehab.

“The hardest thing about this is he knows he let people down. He let his family down, he let his friends down, he let his colleagues down, he let his supporters down and the people of Toronto.”

He asked Torontonians to keep the mayor and his family in their prayers, but asked that they respect Rob Ford’s privacy, for the sake of his family.

“(I will) continue to stand by my brother and his family throughout this difficult journey.”

“This is one of the toughest days of my life, but in saying that I also have a sense of relief. As an older brother, I’m relieved that Rob has faced his problems and has decided to seek professional help,” he said.

He did not take questions from reporters.

Are Doug Ford’s enabling days over?

In the past, the mayor’s brother vigorously defended Ford and even said he never saw him drink. However, today, the public saw a different and very emotional side of the councillor.

“Doug is defending his brother to his last breath and he’s loyal to him, but there’s a lot of problems there because he keeps on getting undercut by Rob,” Mark Elliot, an addictions councillor in Toronto, told CityNews reporter Tom Hayes.

“He says Rob’s OK, but then Rob does something else that’s stupid.”

Elliot said the family receives the worst brunt of addiction, the “shame, guilt, fame and fear — everything rotten — and the addict gets to go and get high.”

He said Ford has not come clean yet, but that the mayor has taken the first step with a leave of absence.

Rob Ford announced Wednesday night he is taking a leave of absence to seek “immediate” professional help for what he calls a “problem with alcohol.” His decision came immediately after the Globe and Mail said two of its reporters had seen a video showing him taking a drag from a small copper-coloured pipe and exhaling a cloud of smoke.

Separately, the Toronto Star reported on Wednesday that Ford’s binge started at Toronto’s Musik nightclub on St. Patrick’s Day weekend more than a month ago. The newspaper reports that a witness saw the mayor do lines of cocaine at the club. The Toronto Sun also published a report about an audio that captured Ford allegedly making lewd comments about mayoral candidate Karen Stintz and his wife, Renata.

Norm Kelly assumes mayoral responsibilities

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said on Thursday that he has “agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor” during his absence, effective immediately.

“The events that have brought us together this morning can best be described as a personal tragedy and should not be seen as a crisis of government,” Kelly said at a noon news conference.

He said council work will continue to “move forward” and that it is business as usual in Toronto.

“I do not see this as a crisis of government. We’ll continue to do things as we did previously,” Kelly said, who will keep his deputy mayor title and assume charge of Ford’s staff.

City manager Joe Pennachetti said the mayor would have to return to his position for the July council meeting unless councillors approved a resolution allowing for his absence.

Kelly said the mayor’s actions are inexcusable, but that “it is fundamental that we as members of a council respect each other and the people we represent.”

He also offered his well-wishes to Ford and his family.

Mayoral candidates react to latest allegations against Mayor Ford

Toronto mayoral candidates Stintz and Olivia Chow both expressed their disappointment over the latest drug-use allegations against Mayor Ford.

At a news conference on Thursday morning, Stintz said she is was upset with the “misogynist language” used in the audio allegedly featuring Ford ranting and making lewd comments about Stintz.

Stintz said the comments left her shocked and embarrassed and she believes the city has had enough of Ford’s scandals.

“I’d f*****g jam her, but she don’t want,” Ford is heard saying. The audio was published in the Toronto Sun on Wednesday.

“Rob Ford’s comments are gross. Rob Ford is not Toronto. Toronto is tired of being gripped in this sad, sad mess,” Stintz said.

The audio was reportedly recorded in a bar called Sullie Gorman’s, which is in a strip mall on Royal York Road, north of Eglinton Avenue West, near Ford’s mother’s house and across from a park named after his late father.

“There is no place in this city for sexism and homophobia,” Stintz said on Thursday.

Stintz said she hopes he can recover but that she’s “not interested in an empty apology — we’ve heard too many of those.”

Chow told reporters she was angry when she heard the latest allegations against Ford on Wednesday night.

“Angry and disappointed that once again, he is making offensive remarks against women. This time, against Ms. Stintz. Very hurtful remarks,” Chow told reporters at a news conference, which was held shortly after.

“A mayor needs to treat everyone in the city with dignity and he certainly has not done so … he has offended many and hurt many.”

Chow said Ford it’s “obvious Mr. Ford is a sick man” and that he has “serious drug abuse problems and substance abuse problems.”

“I am sure that everyone in this city will join with me to wish him, and hope that he as a person, recovers from his sickness and his illness and his addiction.”

Chow added that Ford “had his chance” as a mayor, and that he should have stepped aside last year.

“Last year, everyone said that he needs to take responsibility, he needs to get help. He didn’t do so. It’s too late for him to take a leave of absence,” she said.

When asked if the mayor should resign, Chow said “voters should decide.”

“That’s why, in October, the residents of this city will issue a verdict on Mr. Ford and we will have a new mayor.”

Stintz echoed a similar sentiment saying the Toronto needs a new mayor, but that only voters can remove him from office. She didn’t call for his resignation.

“The only people who can remove Rob Ford from office is the people from Toronto … we will choose a better Toronto.”

Reaction from politicians & other mayoral candidates

On Wednesday evening, mayoral candidate John Tory said he was relieved the mayor said he was getting help and sent his thoughts to the Ford family; however, he called for Ford to resign.

Mayoral candidate David Soknacki called Ford a “disgrace” and also called for Ford to resign “immediately.”

On Thursday morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne took a break from her morning run to talk to reporters about Thursday’s budget and the latest Ford scandal.

“This has been a distraction in the city for a long time,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday morning during her morning run.

“Rob Ford needs to deal with his personal issues.”

With files from Patricia D’Cunha, Showwei Chu, Erin Criger, Tom Hayes, and Toronto Staff

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